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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  January 17, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PST

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01/17/13 01/17/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> there are a lot of powerful people who want to clamp down on the internet. to be honest, there are not a whole lot of a vested interest in protecting from all of that. >> the words of the late internet visionary aaron swartz. outrageous growing of the justice department's prosecution of the 26-year-old who committed suicide last week. just weeks before he was to go on trial for downloading millions of academic articles as the chief crop executors defense her actions, we speak to aaron
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swartz's girlfriend, taren stinebrickner-kauffman and computer security consultant alex stamos who would have been the chief expert witness for the defense. then, tavis smiley on poverty. >> when people have no hope for the future, they have no power in the present, something must be done to save this democracy by doing something about this growing gap between the have got and the have-nots, the rich and the rest of us. we will keep pushing the president and talking about this issue. >> as president obama prepares for his second inauguration, broadcaster tavis smiley calls on the white house to prioritize the fight against poverty in obama's second term rid of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has formally unveiled his proposals to reform
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the nation's gun laws more than a month after the shooting massacre in newtown. on wednesday, obama called for reinstating the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, expanding background checks for gun buyers, improving the delivery of mental health services, and allowing schools to hire up to 1000 school resource officers and counselors. obama presented his plan alongside vice-president joe biden, who headed the white house task force appointed after newtown. >> in the months since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us in sandy hook elementary, more than 900 of our fellow americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun. 900. in the past month. and every day we wait, that number will keep growing. so i am putting forward a
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specific set of proposals based on the work of joe's task force. and in the days ahead, i intend to use whatever with this office holds to make them a reality. >> the white house plan is expected to meet stiff resistance from house republicans and even some senate democrats in states with loose restrictions on firearms. in a statement, the national rifle association vowed to challenge obama with what it called "p5 of the century." and his remarks, obama called on the american people to help him push gun control through congress. >> this will not happen unless the american people demand it. if parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if responsible gun owners, if americans of every background stand up and say enough's, we of suffered too much pain and cared too much
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about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come. >> in a statement, the nation's leading gun control advocacy group, the british campaign to prevent gun violence, endorsed the plan saying the white house has exhibited "tremendous leadership" in its comprehensive policy recommendations to address gun violence. the american civil liberties union expressed concern about obama's call for more police officers in schools, saying -- you can go to for debate on the issue of armed officers in schools from wednesday's broadcast, as well as our other coverage of obama's gun-control plan. the judge overseeing the pre-
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trial hearing of alleged army whistleblower bradley manning has ruled the government must prove manning wanted to aid the enemy as prosecutors have alleged. on wednesday, colonel denise lind told prosecutors to prove that manning knew or should have known the documents he's accused of passing to wikileaks would end up being seen by members of al qaeda. lind also granted a defense request to present evidence that manning carefully selected documents he knew would not harm the united states. manning has previously offered to plead guilty to releasing documents if the government drops its most serious charges, including aiding the enemy. also on wednesday, defense attorneys tried to argue for the case's dismissal on the grounds manning has been denied the right to a speedy trial. by the time his trial begins in june, manning will have been in detention for 1101 days, nearly 10 times the maximum allowed by military rules between arrest
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and trial. a group of foreign and algerian workers have been taken hostage in algeria in what their kidnappers call retaliation for the french bombing of mali. the standoff is being described as one of the biggest international hostage crisis is in several decades. in washington, state department spokesperson victoria nuland confirmed americans are among the group. >> the best information that we have at this time is that u.s. citizens are among the hostages. i hope you'll understand that in order to protect their safety, i am not going to get into numbers, i am not going to get into names, i am not going to get into any further details as we continue to work on this issue with the algerian authorities and also with their employers. >> an austrian troops have reportedly surrounded the complex where the hostages are being held. the government of algeria had previously warned against french
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intervention in neighboring mali and has now sealed off their shared border. the hostage crisis in algeria comes as french troops have launched ground operations inside mali days after their bombing campaign began. according to the new york times, unnamed u.s. officials say the incident in algeria could mark the beginning of a wave of regional attacks on foreigners and that americans are harmed in the obama administration might reconsider its pledges not to commit ground troops to the battle in mali. the obama administration meanwhile is preparing to recognize the government of somalia for the first time in more than 20 years. secretary of state hillary clinton is expected to formally make the announcement in a meeting with somali president mohamed in washington. the move will come just days after the u.s. took part in a failed attempt by france to rescue a captured secret agent inside of somalia. the u.s. military has confirmed
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it's halted the transfer of detainees to some afghan prisons over ongoing abuses including torture. the obama administration resumed the transfers last year after pausing them in the wake of a 2011 united nations investigation that found widespread abuses. despite its qualms with the afghan military's handling of detainees, the u.s. continues to hold prisoners without charge or trial at afghanistan's bagram prison. the united nations says it has received permission from syria to expand efforts to feed the estimated 2.5 million people suffering from hunger during syria's international -- internal crisis. on wednesday, the world food program executive director says collaboration with local partners could mean the delivery of aid to an additional 1 million syrians. >> last week we were given a list of 110 additional ngo's that we can work with now.
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110. we have assessed the operational capacity of about 110, and we have identified 44 ngo's on that list that will give us the ability to scale up to another 1 million persons. >> these really press minister netanyahu has taken what is being described as a subtle dig at president obama following widespread reports of arrest -- rift between the two. it was recently reported obama chided his government and private apparently saying -- visiting an israeli army base, netanyahu appeared to respond. >> i think everyone understands that only israeli citizens will be the ones who determine who loyally represents the state of
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israel's vital interest. in the past four years we have faced tremendous pressures. i shall continue to protect israel's vital interests for the sake of the security of israel's citizens. >> despite talk of a rift between president obama and prime minister netanyahu, obama has yet to take any action on one of the most controversial settlement expansions by the israeli government in years. israel is now expanding the e1 settlement after objections were raised under george w. bush. the zone is particularly sensitive because it would completely bisect the west bank, dashing with a remote hopes remain for two-state solution. the obama administration has refused to cut aid or even offer criticism, limiting its reaction to calling the expansion "counterproductive." new details have been revealed
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on the obama administration's weapon sales to bahrain after -- during the ruling monarchy's ongoing crackdown on opposition protesters. the website propublica reports the u.s. has sold weaponry including ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, blackhawk helicopters, and an undisclosed missile system to bahrain since the protests began nearly two years ago. it is unclear if all the purchases were delivered, but they provide a key window into the extent of u.s. support for the bahrain government -- regime as it faced international condemnation for repressing dissent. all the weapons are supposed to only be used for self-defense, some may have been used against civilian demonstrators. iran helicopters reportedly fired on protesters in march 2011, around the same time bahrain that helicopter related acquisition from the united states. a group of leading climate scientists has renewed calls for president obama to reject the keystone xl pipeline as he nears a decision in his upcoming
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second term. obama will soon decide whether to allow the company to transcanada's plan to move tar sands oil from canada to refineries in the gulf coast after putting off a decision until after the 2012 campaign. in an open letter, the scientists, including nasa climatologist james hansen, rights -- the letter was released by the group, which is organizing a major presidents' day rally in washington next month to oppose the pipeline. a recent study in canada has found the development of the tar sands and the province of alberta has led to increased levels of carcinogenic compounds in surrounding lakes and a wider contamination than previously known. canadian government-backed researchers say deposits of cancer-causing chemicals have
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grown steadily since major oil sands production began in 1978. indigenous-led protests continued across canada wednesday with a national day of action to address the state of living conditions for first nations. among a series of actions, hundreds of natives slowed traffic on the ambassador bridge connecting detroit with the neighboring canadian town of windsor, ontario. the protests were held in solidarity with the idle no more movement, in indigenous-led effort to protest the federal government's treatment of native peoples and its record on the environment. the year, india and japan have grounded the dreamliner jets over safety concerns following a series of incidents. federal aviation ordered all of them taken out of service wednesday. european officials followed suit today. the 787 is the newest of a boeing and the company reportedly is depending heavily on its success. it's suffered from several issues including a fire on a
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plan bought -- park in boston an emergency landing in japan that had burn marks around the main battery. today marks the 100th birthday of the legendary media activist everett parker. active for more than six decades, parker is best known for spearheading the challenge to mississippi television station wlbt in the 1960's, which ultimately had its license revoked for attempting to squelch the voices of the civil- rights movement of the time. in a 2008 interview with "democracy now!" everett parker discussed his efforts to monitor racist television networks as founder of the office of communication of the united church of christ. >> i went down and i really looked at stations from new orleans to the east coast, and found it was a very bad situation.
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earlier teaching at yale, divinity school, i had developed a new way of monitoring television stations. >> reverend everett parker identified the kkk-backed wlbt as a frequent target of public complaints and fcc reprimands regarding its public service. he filed a petition to deny renewal with the fcc, initiating a process that eventually got the station's license revoked by a federal court. happy birthday today to everett parker who is 100 years old. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. i wish happy birthday to everett parker, a real pioneer in need of reform in this country. in fact, in my book, i devote a
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lot of time to that issue of what was done in mississippi television in the 1950's and 1960's. people do not realize the impact that had not only on broadcast reform, but also on the ability of citizens to appeal -- to have standing, to question regulations and government agencies. that really opened up the ability of citizens to appeal to the government on regulations affecting a variety of issues not just broadcasting. it was a real kind an effort -- pioneering efforts. >> and ending run by the civil rights movement instead of the kkk. one of the first voice is heard after was medgar evers, who was in the assassinated outside his home, the great civil-rights leader. interestingly on monday, for president obama's inauguration,
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it is medgar evers' widow who will be giving the convocation. >> we begin today's show with more on the debt and prosecution of internet freedom activist aaron swartz who killed themselves last friday. at the time of his death, he was facing up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine for using computers at mit to download millions of academic articles provided by the nonprofit research service jstor. he was 26 years old. at the age of 14, he co developed really simple syndication, rss. it is the key component of much of the web's entire publishing infrastructure. by the time is 19, he co-founded a company that would merge with reddit, now one of the country's most popular websites. he also helped develop the architecture for the creed of commons licensing system and built the open library. his death has prompted an outpouring of frustration and anger at the u.s. prosecution.
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on capitol hill, democratic representative zoe lofgren of california has introduced a bill that aaron's law to modify the computer fraud and abuse act by decriminalizing violations of terms of service agreement. republican congressman darrell i said, chair of the house oversight committee, is launching a probe into the possible prosecutorial overreach. at his funeral, aaron's father blamed prosecutors for his son's death saying he was "killed by the government. earlier his family released a statement saying -- >> on wednesday night, the united states attorney for the district of massachusetts, carmen ortiz, broke her silence about the case. and richest -- in a written in a statement she wrote -
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ortiz said her office offered aaron a plea bargain of six months in prison. when the first -- and the case first came to light, ortiz was quoted saying -- ortiz issued the statement a day after her has been used water to fire back at his wife's critics. tom dolan, an executive with ibm, wrote -- in a moment we will be joined by aaron swartz's girlfriend, but first i want to turn to aaron swartz in his own words. this is part of a speech he delivered last may in washington, d.c., would explain the challenges he sees the internet facing. >> there's a battle going on, a
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battle to define everything that happens on the internet in terms of traditional things that the law understands. is sharing a video like shoplifting from a movie store? or is it like loaning a videotape to a friend. is reloading a webpage like a peaceful sit-in or a violent smashing of shop windows? is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder? >> an swartz speaking last may. to watch the full speech, go to for more we're joined by taren stinebrickner-kauffman, and swartz's partner as well as the founder and executive director of it is a global movement for corporate accountability. this is her first television interview since parents death. we will also be speaking with alex stamos in california and stanford, university.
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his a forensics expert. he planned to testify at an swartz's trial. he would have been a chief defense witness. we did invite mit and the attorney's office, but they declined. taren stinebrickner-kauffman, first of all, our condolences on the loss of aaron. he committed suicide last friday. the funeral was just two days ago. you found him breathe he hung himself in a brooklyn apartment that you shared. talk about aaron. was about what's or who he and what he wanted and the effect of this upcoming trial. >> aaron was the most dedicated to fighting social injustice of anyone i've ever met in my life
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and i loved him for it. dosed to say, why don't we this? it will make you happy. he would say, i don't want to be happy, i just want to change the world. open access to information was one of the causes he believed in, but it was far from the only one. during the course of this two- year ordeal, he led the fight against sopa, the internet censorship bill, which no one thought to be defeated when it was first introduced in which aaron and millions of others together managed to fight back. he did that all while under the burden of this -- this bullying and false charges. he was just the most lovely person.
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thstory. he loved children. he loved reading out loud. that was one of his favorite things. he started trying to read me the biography of lyndon johnson out loud from the first volume. we did not get that far because it is very, very long. one of his favorite books was "harry potter." >> could you talk a little bit about his initial reaction to the arrest and is the zeal of the prosecutors in massachusetts to go after him on the downloading of the jstor research articles? >> i was not with him -- we did not start dating more than a couple of weeks before this
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began. he tried really hard to wall it off. it was very stressful for him, but he tried to keep his friends and family as much as possible sort of isolated from this. he was very good at protecting other people. he was distressed by the fact the prosecutors had called two of his closest friends as witnesses at the grand jury, so he tried to protect everyone else by not giving us any information that would warrant being called as witnesses. the whole thing was just this big mistake and he helped the prosecutor's office would he had donethat' nothing illegal. as he put it, and the very few press releases he did around
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this, he did liken it to arresting or charging someone from -- for borrowing too many books from the library. all of the articles he had the right to access individually. the confusion was he had just access a lot of them. he helped the prosecutors would see -- he hoped the prosecutors would see the unfairness of what they're doing an injustice. they were not interested in that. there were interested in winning, interested in a knot on their belts, are not interested in injustice or does it actually makes sense for this young man to be leveled a felon for the rest of his life? -- labeled a felon for the rest of his life and go to prison for years and years? >> we're going to take a break.
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when we come back, we will be joined by the person who would have been the chief witness. taren stinebrickner-kauffman is our guest, aaron's partner. we will be joined by alex stamos, who would have testified at the trial, to explain what it is that aaron did and was fighting for. usually, our next guest is a consultant for corporations, protecting them from break-ins on the internet. today, he will talk about what that means in aaron's case. back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we're talking about the life and
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suicide of aaron swartz, 26- year-old cyber activist, social justice activist who committed suicide last friday. i want to turn to aaron's comments made at the university of illinois in october 2010. he was talking about the nonprofit subscription service that some in the college students and others used to run the country called jstor. >> i am going to give you one example of something not as big as saving congress, but something important you can do right here at your own school. it just requires your willing to get your shoes a little bit muddy. by virtue of being students at a major you -- diversity, i seem to have access to a wide variety of articles licensing fees are paid to places like jstor to get access to scholarly journals the rest of the world cannot read.
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these fees are substantial and so substantial that people who are studying in india instead of the u.s. do not have this kind of access. they're locked out from all of these journals. they're locked out from our entire scientific legacy. i mean, a lot of these articles go back to the indictment. every time someone has written down a scientific paper, it has been scanned, digitized, and put in these collections. that is a legacy brought to us by the history people doing interesting work, the history of scientists. it should belong to us as a people. instead, it has been locked up and put online by a handful of for-profit copper -- corporations to try to get the maximum profit they can out of it. there are good people try to change this with the open access movement. that all journals going forward, encouraging them to publish them open on the internet, available for free copying and perhaps
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modification with notice and attribution. >> that was and shorts in 2010 -- aaron swartz in 2010 speaking at the university of illinois. our guests are taren stinebrickner-kauffman, aaron's partner, and alex stamos, plan to testify on aaron defense. alex, talk about the significance of what aaron was saying two years ago. >> aaron believed very strongly that the scientific and cultural background that has been built over the centuries belong to everyone. and obviously, he was willing to risk a lie to test that the -- risk a lot to test that contest the walls that have been put up around the content, as he called it. >> talk about how you came
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involved. usually are protecting companies like goldman sachs. talk about why you were going to be the chief defense witness. >> i actually knew very little about aaron's case other than what i had read online casually until i was contacted last fall by his new attorneys that were here in san francisco. as you said, we mostly do corporate work. aaron was our first criminal defendant. generally, this is not the kind of work that interests us or has an interesting computer security aspect. but when we were contacted by the lawyers, it did intrigue as that he was facing such serious charges for even if you believe all the facts in the government indictment, actions that are very difficult to really qualify as computer hacking. and so we decided to join the case as expert witnesses. as the case went on, that belief that what he did is very hard to
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fit into that box they tried to fit in of criminal hacking activity. that feeling grew as we saw the evidence and talk to witnesses, saw the case the government was lying out against him. >> what exactly was it that he did that you would say does not qualify as computer hacking, and why would you say -- what would be the line you would draw on this? also, your speculation as to why the government even pursued this case, if you have a theory, why they felt so strongly they had to pursue him? >> aaron was accused of downloading to many files are checking too many books out of the library. he found a loophole that was a convenient way for him to get access to a lot of the jstor documents. that loophole is the fact that mit made to the interesting decisions. first they decided to license
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the jstor database in a way where access was provided to the entire mit network without asking for any kind of individual authentication. that is often not true. if you want access jstor any of the affiliation, the have to say "i am bob smith, a student at the university." now you have an identity with jstor or the can monitor what you're doing and see how many downloads you have. mit did that have that set up. they wanted it to be open for people to build a click on a document, read it. that is the deal they made with jstor. the other decision, m.i.t. decided to run an extremely open, and monitored network. the math that allow people to jump on from wired access points and take on the identity of some filiated with the mit.
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they allow visitors, people who just happen to be on campus to have access. they do so with very little need to authenticate or say who you are. those things combined, aaron realized it would allow him to go on to campus and download articles from a variety of locations. i cannot condone everything aaron did. i think what he did was perhaps discourteous or inconsiderate of taking advantage of the library privileges he was basically granted, but at no time did he do any actions that i would consider hacking. he went to mit and started downloading documents. jstor as some point noticed a lot of documents were being downloaded from one address at mit, so they cut it off. aaron would notice and ask the
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mit network to give him a new one. that is pretty common. it is something people do all day at university and corporations or even on a starbucks wi-fi network. it is that action of going and requesting a new identity the government seems to consider wire fraud or computer fraud. one of the things he did that probably brought it to a head was in the end, aaron, i believe, wanted to find a place you could leave his laptops for several days to continue downloading without him having to be there. so it opened up and went to an and wiring closet and put his computer into a switch. mit call that trespassing. there was selectivity -- that was the activity in which they say he massively overstepped the line. >> we should say that jstor refused to endorse any
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prosecution of aaron swartz. they said aaron returned the data he had in his possession and was settled in the crimes we have had against him in june 2011. earlier this week, before aaron died, they announced, jstor announced that 1200 journals from its archives had been open for limited reading by the public. taren stinebrickner-kauffman, back's partner, just flew from chicago where she attended aaron's funeral, can you talk about the broader issues here? >> i think there are a couple of broader issues that aaron's senseless prosecution and that highlights. one is the freedom of
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information issue and open access issue, as the clip you played says, the scientific legacy of academics and researchers from over the centuries often most of it is funded in one way or another by taxpayers, by the government ought to be available to everyone in the world. it ought to be available. that is one of the things that i think i hope, not just going forward, but all research ever in history, ought to be open access online. the second is this issue of how the law addresses computer crimes or alleged computer crimes, and that the computer fraud and abuse act is so broadly written and ambiguousus that prosecutors, like steve
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heineman, who just want, as i said earlier, just won a notch on their belts, can throw the book or to charge someone with 35 years in prison for miley and considered behavior -- mildly consideand consider behavior. why does someone like steve heineman have the power to do this, unbridled power? why would you charge someone with up to 35 years in prison if he actually think all the desert is six months as the plea deal suggested? this happens to people every day and must have your resources than aaron and much less support, and don't have the option necessarily of even considering hiring a lawyer and going to try all over the course of two years and are forced to take the plea deals when they're not guilty or the plea deals are completely unjust. when a broad criminal justice
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reform in this country. we incarcerate more people per capita than any other country in the world. we do not have lower crime rates because of it. there is justice and there is justice. right now our system does not promote justice. our system is punitive. our system is unfair. aaron and millions of other people suffer because of it. >> following up on that, i want to refer to comments of the house oversight committee chairman darrell issa, republican of california, who says he wants to launch a investigation into how the u.s. attorney's office pressed charges against aaron swartz for downloading his articles. he told the huffington post --
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this whole issue of prosecutorial overreach, computer crimes, i am wondering if, alex stamos, you might want to comment on that? >> >> tarn has a good point. one of the key problems are the definitions in the computer fraud and abuse act. there is this one word that is very difficult for even those of us who work professionally in this area to understand, and that word is "authorized." multiple counts in the indictment against aaron existed because they said he had exceeded what he was authorized to do either on the mit network or the jstor network. the term authorized in an internet context, and makes a lot less sense than a dozen the real world. for example, there are thousands of people right now going to watching the
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live stream. did you authorize any of those people to do that? to interact with the computer, to take on the cost your taking the streaming video? no, you didn't. they are allowed to and you want them to, but how you express that authorization to them is a very difficult thing. at one point to someone doing something that is allowed become in excess of authorization? what aaron was doing was the same activity that thousands of people do at mit every year. he was looking at documents. he was doing it at a much wider scale, more than they seemed to want, but at one point does he exceed authorization? having these incredibly broad definitions and a word that does that really mean anything like all the rest, we have a situation where if a prosecutor does not like your what you did, if you use a computer, they can find a way to call it hacking and an abuse of that system.
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>> just as we went to broadcast, the grass-roots organization demand progress which aaron swartz helped found, launched a new campaign calling on congress to end prosecutorial abuses and to pass congress member so lofgren has built a mini computer fraud law. the group sent a letter to members reading -- or information on the campaign is that as we wrap up, taren, what this campaign will mean. i know there will be a memorial here in new york city on saturday at 4:00.
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where this campaign is headed? >> i think the best legacy that -- the best tribute we can pay to aaron's legacy is to fight to make this world a more just, fair play spread that is what he cared most about. i am going to keep doing that. we have yet to sort of look at all of the details of the law. i want to make sure it covers a sweeping amendment as possible, but, clearly, the computer act must be amended. i hope this can serve as a wake- up call for the broader issues in the criminal justice system. it is not just this one act. our system is deeply, deeply unfair. as i said earlier, millions of people suffer because of it needlessly.
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in this country, it is very hard for people, for politicians to look weak on crime, but that is not what this is. this is about justice. nobody should have to face was aaron's faced. i hope we can help save people in the future. >> taren stinebrickner-kauffman, thank you very much for being with us. again, our condolences on the death of your partner, aaron swartz. taren head of alex stamos, head of artemis internet, was going to be one of the chief witnesses for the defense at aaron's trial. after his death, the was prosecutor announced all the charges were dropped. by the way, if you want to go to our website, we authorize all of you to go to to read, watch, listen to our shows, read the
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transcripts. on monday, we devote the whole show to the less we devoted the whole show to aaron's case. we played the speech that he recently gave at the freedom to connect conference. when we come back, tavis smiley smiley is holdinwill speak to u. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> this monday marks the public inauguration l. usher of president obama second term, and we turn out to the call for him to put the more than 50 million americans living in poverty at the top of his agenda. the issue has garnered attention in part because obama will take the oath of office with his hand placed on two bibles -- one
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owned by abraham lincoln, and the other by martin luther king jr., known for his civil rights and anti-poverty activism. the inauguration comes on january 21, the federal holiday in honor of the civil-rights leader who delivered his i have a dream" speech 50 years ago the lincoln memorial. he has addressed the issue of martin luther king and poverty before in 2011 when he spoke at the dedication of the martin luther king monument at the national. >> nearly 50 years after the march on washington, our work, dr. king's work, it is not yet complete. we gather here at the moment of great challenge and great change. in the first decade of this new century, we have been tested by war and by tragedy, economic crisis and its aftermath that has left millions out of work in
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poverty on the rise and millions more to struggle to get by. indeed, even before this crisis struck, we have entered a decade of rising inequality and stagnant wages, and too many troubled never across the country the conditions of our poor citizens appear a little changed from what existed 50 years ago. neighborhoods with underfunded schools and broken down slums, inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which to many young people grow up with little hope and peace prospects for the future. >> president obama speaking in 2011 at the dedication of the martin luther king monument on the national mall in washington, d.c. journalist, author tavis smiley has spent the past year criss- crossing the country with activist and professor cornell west to start a national
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conversation on poverty. the address it in their book, "the rich and the rest of us: a poverty maifesto." that called on president obama to organize a white house conference in the eradication of poverty in america. tonight tavis will be in the nation's capital moderating a nationally televised symposium called, "vision for a new america: a future without poverty." the event begins a 6:30 p.m. eastern time and will be broadcast live on c-span at george washington university. tavis smiley, welcome back to "democracy now!" talk about what you're doing and what you want president obama to do. >> thank you for having me back. dr. west since his regards for it with regard to the king of bible being used in this inauguration, i feeling ambivalent about that. in part because i have always regarded dr. king as the greatest american this country has ever produced.
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and any celebration, any honor of dr. king that keeps his legacy at the center of the conversation is important. but i'm feeling at a moment where this country is using more drones than ever before, oftentimes killing innocent women and children at a moment when this country continues to render poor people and visible, at a moment when this country continues to escalate militarily, all of the things that concerned dr. king, the triple threat, those three evils, thare more out of control than ever before pre it is one thing to place our hand on his bible and symbolism, but quite another to get down to the real work, the substantive work he would want to be doing were he here now. so that on monday president obama will be in the foreground and dr. king clearly stands and looms large in the background, as the backdrop, if you will.
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i hate to question that ask ourselves now the same question dr. king asked, life's most persistent question, "what are you doing for others?" if we cannot make the world safe for his legacy by making party, the eradication of poverty a priority, then something is wrong with our commitment to king's legacy. tonight we'll continue to do our small part to try to make poverty and its eradication of priority. >> tavis, the past few months, this emphasis in the media and congress on the fiscal cliff, talk about the growing nature of the spread of poverty in america and how the reduction of any of these "and heineman programs" even lead to greater poverty. >> the president has been given high marks by his supporters and others in the media and has declared him the winner and the
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fiscal cliff negotiations for you both know we will not really know how good this deal was in january until we get to march, when we get to the debt ceiling conversation, when these entitlement cuts are on the table. i've said many times that budgets are moral documents. budgets are moral documents. when we get to this kind of debate in march about the entitlement cuts, then we're going to see how good this deal in january allegedly was. but something is wrong economic policy has you teetering on cliffs and bumping up against ceilings. that is no way to run the country or prioritize poverty. the bottom line is, president obama should do, number one, a o major public policy address on the eradication of poverty. he starts out as the committee organizer, speaks eloquently about dr. king, has a bust of dr. king in the white house oval office, will be inaugurated on king's holiday. what are we going to do about pushing our president to give a major public policy address on the eradication of poverty?
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no. 2, then to call and convened a white house conference on the eradication of poverty by bringing the experts together, creed and national plan that can cut poverty in half in 10 years and eradicate it in 25. first, a public policy address and then convening to put together a national plan. we will talk about that tonight and as the public to help us and engage the president on this by going to our website a future withoutpoverty.ocm. >> yesterday president obama convened a large gathering. many of the people there were victims. the new kid around connecticut's -- survivors from the newtown, connecticut shootings as well as other mass killings. the vice president was convened -- convene a commission of what should happen around the issue
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of gun violence. they came out with their recommendations yesterday. do you see this as a model for what you want to happen around poverty? >> absolutely. it ought to be clear, there is a lot on the president's plate. that is what needs to be president, to try to manage the witnesrichest nation in the wora nation that i not buy the argument that just because you want sensible gun control legislation that some of the second amendment is under attack. there's a huge gap between repealing the second amendment and sensible gun laws. i'm glad to see the president take this issue on, but it is the case as in his first term, he received an "f" from the british cbrady campaign on gun- control. we will see if he improves on that with his executive actions. moreover, the fight his 1/2 to engage with congress.
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i am glad to see him taking big steps. having said that, look what it took to get here. i mean, look at all of these -- the fact those victims were at the white house for this announcement speaks to the fact that we allow this to go on and on and on. and only when the most innocent and precious children in our nation are shot down, do we finally get the backbone to take these issues seriously. that is my point. i don't know what else has that been for us to recognize that poverty is threatening our very democracy. poverty is a matter of national security. when you tackle poverty, you deal with these other issues that are tentacles of poverty. horrible education system and lack of housing and lack of good jobs with a living wage, etc., etc. poverty ought to be something i think the president can wrap his legacy around if he wants to have one of which he and we can be proud. >> tavis, i am wondering if your campaign you're then going
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around the country with you feel has had any impact on corporate leaders in america? 30 years ago the private -- largest private corporation was to rollovers. middle-class situation, a pension. now it is walmart. private employer. most of their workers are in poverty themselves because of lack of benefits and low wages. >> corporate america is hard to crack. people go hard at walmart and i believe the companies ought to be respectful of the health of their employees and the equity pay of their employees, etc., but this announcement they made about hiring military veterans and giving them worked i think is significant. the point here is, corporations can lead. corporations to advance the conversation. for example, in this country, as the supreme court continues ever so often to file these affirmative action cases, it has been the case that oftentimes
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corporate america has led the government when it comes to trying to address the issue of affirmative action. it is not always the case for it i don't know what impact we will have or have had, but i do know this president and the violence in washington typically do not do much double-the bodies in washington typically do not do much until they are pushed. we should ask the president to provide some leadership. there is a link between poverty and gun violence. the younger you are, the more likely are to be poor. the more poor york, the more you are to be subject to random guy gun violence. black and brown kids were gunned down in this country every day and nobody says anything. >> as we wrap up, what you're doing tonight at george washington university, and the tory retaking afterwards? >> tonight, doors open at 5:00. we go live on c-span tonight at 6:34 a spirited debate. geoffrey sax, cornell west, newt
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gingrich and others. how we make poverty a priority. then we go to colleges and universities for the next week were to try to get young people engaged in this issue of making poverty a priority in the nation. >> tavis smiley, thank you for being with us, tonight at george washington university, a summit on poverty. on monday we will be broadcasting live from the capital on martin luther king day in the inauguration, broadcasting from and a clock eastern -- 8:00-1:00. we will be bringing in different voices from all over the country. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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>> we are asking you to go to the fund to support link tv. with a great second hour, a continuation with tavis smiley, also joined by the preacher, a professor, activist cornell west. a conversation we had the week of the reelection of president obama, just a month or so ago. we were in president obama's city, chicago, and had just held a form at northwestern law school the night before. tavis smiley and cornell west are authors of the book "the rich and the rest of us." we're going to play a clip of our conversation and in the our conversation and in the speech